I have several friends who are experiencing the curves of life. I do not think there is a time where one is not experiencing transition. Despite our feelings, transition comes. Transition does not wait for us to get ourselves together; to prepare. Transition forces us to take what it has brought. Sometimes, transition bring light to what feels like a plain life.
One of my friends is getting married, and I am thrilled for what this change will bring her. My friend, A, has encouraged me through some curves in my own life. I know that God coordinated our first meeting, and our subsequent friendship. A few years ago, I went to a service at another church to hear my pastor preach. My pastor had been asked to preach at this church, and I wanted to support him. After the service, I ran into my friend JM, who introduced me to A. JM knew that I was looking for work, and A was looking to hire someone at her workplace. A and I exchanged contact information. I did not end up applying for the job, but A and I ended up hanging out at the Juneteenth Festival.
At the Festival, A and I discovered that we had both witnessed tragedy in our families. A’s brother had passed away several years ago, while my sister was severely ill and bedridden. Before A, I had not met anyone who could relate to the grief that I had regarding my sister. I did not want her to be ill, but I also did not want death to be the way that her illness and suffering ended. I wanted my sister to be the hip, red lipstick wearing woman that she was before. When I met A, I met someone who “got it.” The loss of a sibling connected us.
God used A’s heartbreak over the loss of her brother to help me when my sister eventually passed away. Along with many of my friends and family members, A came by the house shortly after my sister’s death. When I wanted to swallow my tears and be fierce, she encouraged me to pour out my anguish. Pride did not belong next to grief. I had to become vulnerable, and vulnerability was scary to me, as I had learned that crying was “babyish.”
A accompanied me on my journey of grief. Often, I would reach out to her on those days (holidays, sister’s death anniversary, sister’s birthday) when the grief increased. A was empathetic and allowed me to share my emotions. While I wish that no one had to deal with the loss of a loved one, I believe that God used the unique experience of sibling loss to build a friendship between A and I. When I first met A, I did not know that she would be one of the people that would walk closely with me when my sister passed away. God is good, and He knows our deepest needs. In my anguish, God knew that I would need someone who understood the loss of a sibling. I would need someone who would check in with me about my well-being.
I am not even sure if I would have met A if I had not gone to the service that she was attending. I may not have even met A if JM had not introduced her to me. It’s cliché, but I believe that things happen for a reason. To be spiritual with this idea, God allows things to happen for His own purposes. I went to a specific service, met and became friends with A, and we have encouraged each other throughout the curves of life.
I hold this idea towards each of the friendships that I have. God has orchestrated many of my current friendships. I have friends that I met in middle school, high school, college, and church. With each friend, I have vented, laughed, cried, and celebrated victories with them. I mention A, because of our commonality in having lost a sibling. At any point in our situations, either A or I could have walked away from God and His goodness, from our families and friends, and from opportunities.
The band, Colony House, has a song called “Won’t Give Up Now.” The lead singer sings the following poignant lyrics near the end of the song:
‘Too many dreams I didn’t want to dream
Too many night alone where I can’t sleep
I’ve got the devil on my back
Trying to take home from me
But I see Jesus out in front
He’s reaching back for the lonely
Reaching back ’cause he loves me
I take his hand because she loved me”
Colony House is comprised of Steven Curtis Chapman’s two sons and another member. One of Chapman’s sons accidentally ran over his younger sister with his car in their driveway. I do not know the amount of guilt that this young man has felt. But I have sat in my grief, “with the devil on my back” and “Jesus out in front.” I love the line: “I take his hand because she loved me.” I am sure A or I could have ignored our destines, but Jesus held out His hand. And our siblings would want us to pursue what makes our hearts jump.
The deaths of our siblings were the transitions we never wanted to endure. We cried sloppy tears and screamed. We prayed loud prayers or maybe we did not pray as much as we should have. With our servant hearts, we loved our siblings, and they loved us. With God’s love, we endured their deaths.
Colony House’s beautiful song is below: